This new expression of dental treatment, "teeth in a day," has been used quite a lot in promotional items to prospective patients. There is some truth to the expression, but it is not quite as simple as it sounds.
It is shorthand to describe a procedure in which four to six dental implants are placed and a prosthesis is secured to the implants on the same day. It is fixed and not removable.
However, this is only a temporary prosthesis. The final restoration cannot be constructed for three to six months following the initial insertion, because the implants have to integrate (be fused with) the bone.
The entire story goes like this:
First, a thorough evaluation is done to plan the case. This includes the usual medical history, dental history, and dental exam. A 3-D X-ray scan is performed to evaluate the bone structure for potential implant placement.
At this or at follow-up appointments, records are made to send to the lab for the construction of the initial appliance. Not always, but this can take several visits.
Only after all of this preliminary planning is the surgery scheduled for the "teeth in a day." Either all the teeth in the arch to be treated are missing already or they are removed.
Once the implants are placed, the prosthesis that was previously constructed is retrofitted to the implants and secured.
The post-op instructions include what to avoid eating and for how long. Hard and chewy foods are avoided for a period of time to prevent loosening of the implants.
Once the implants have integrated and it is approved by the surgeon, the final prosthesis can be constructed. The most typical final prosthesis contains an inner titanium bar that must be very precisely fitted to the implants to provide long-term stability.
The first appointment consists of getting impressions to determine the relative position of the implants as well as to construct records to record the bite and tooth position.
The second appointment consists of verifying the bite, tooth position and implant position. A third appointment is recommended to try on the prosthesis prior to final processing. The fourth appointment is for the final delivery and adjustment.
So, after four to six months and a minimum of five or six appointments, there is finally a completion to "teeth in a day."
Although the expression is a little misleading, this is considered the pinnacle and standard of care to most closely resemble replacement of natural teeth in the arch.
The technique has been developed over time since 1990. Many thousands of patients have benefitted from having their mouths restored in this manner.
It has quite a few advantages including cosmetics, chewing ability, long term success, ability to have a "back door" for any repairs that may be required, and it can be removed by the dentist periodically for cleaning around the implants.
It is great to be living in these times with such a wonderful solution to an age-old problem, even if it takes more than just one day.
James G. Jenkins, D.M.D. is the owner of Bluffton Dental Care in Bluffton.